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a good deal upon the evidence we poffefs of the genuineness, or rather, perhaps, of the antiquity, credit, and reception of the books. Upon the fubject of the refurrection, no fuch difcuffion is neceffary, because no fuch doubt can be entertained. The only points, which can enter into our confideration, are, whether the apoftles knowingly published a falsehood, or whether they were themselves deceived; whether either of these fuppofitions be poffible. The firft, I think, is pretty generally given up. The nature of the undertaking, and of the men; the extreme unlikelihood that fuch men fhould engage in such a measure as a scheme; their personal toils and dangers and fufferings in the cause their appropriation of their whole time to the object; the warm and feemingly unaffected zeal and earnestness with which they profess their fincerity, exempt their memory from the suspicion of impofture. The folution more deferving of notice, is that which would refolve the conduct of the apoftles into enthufiafm; which would class the evidence of Chrift's refurrection with the
the numerous ftories that are extant of the apparitions of dead men. There are circumstances in the narrative, as it is preserved in our hiftories, which deftroy this comparison entirely. It was not one person, but many, who faw him; they faw him not only separately, but together, not only by night but by day, not at a distance but near, not once but feveral times; they not only faw him, but touched him, converfed with him, ate with him, examined his perfon to fatisfy their doubts. These particulars are decifive: but they ftand, I do admit, upon the credit of our records. I would answer, therefore, the infinuation of enthufiafm, by a circumftance which arises out of the nature of the thing; and the reality of which must be confeffed by all who allow, what I believe is not denied, that the refurrection of Chrift, whether true or falfe, was afferted by his difciples from the be ginning and that circumftance is, the nonproduction of the dead body. It is related in the history, what indeed the ftory of the refurrection neceffarily implies, that the corpfe
corpfe was miffing out of the fepulchre it
is related alfo in the history, that the Jews reported that the followers of Chrift had ftolen it * away And this account, though loaded with great improbabilities, fuch as the fituation of the difciples, their fears for their own fafety at the time, the unlikelihood of their expecting to fucceed, the difficulty of actual fuccefs †, and the inevitable
"And this faying," St. Matthew writes, "is commonly reported amongst the Jews until this day." (xxviii. 15.) The evangelift may be thought good authority as to this point, even by those who do not admit his evidence in every other point: and this point is fufficient to prove that the body was miffing.
It has also been rightly, I think, observed by Dr. Townshend (Dif. upon the Ref.p. 26.), that the story of the guards carried collufion upon the face of it :"His difciples came by night, and ftole him away, while we flept." Men in their circumstances would not have made fuch an acknowledgement of their negligence, without previous affurances of protection and impunity.
"Efpecially at the full moon, the city full of people, many probably paffing the whole night, as Jefus and his difciples had done, in the open air, the fepulchre fo near the city as to be now inclofed within the walls." Priestley on the Refur. p. 24.
confequence of detection and failure, was, nevertheless, the moft credible account that could be given of the matter. But it proceeds entirely upon the fuppofition of fraud, as all the old objections did. What account can be given of the body, upon the fuppofition of enthufiafm? It is impoffible our Lord's followers could believe that he was rifen from the dead, if his corpfe was lying before them. No enthufiafm ever reached to fuch a pitch of extravagancy as that: à fpirit may be an illufion; a body is a real thing, an object of fenfe, in which there can be no mistake. All accounts of spectres leave the body in the grave. And, although the body of Chrift might be removed by fraud, and for the purposes of fraud, yet, without any fuch intention, and by fincere but deluded men, which is the reprefentation of the apoftolic character we are now examining, no fuch attempt could be made. The prefence and the abfence of the dead body are alike inccnfiftent with the hypothefis of enthufiafm: for, if present, it must have cured their enthufiafm at once; if abfent,
fent, fraud, not enthusiasm, must have carried it
But further, if we admit, upon the concurrent teftimony of all the hiftories, fo much of the account as ftates that the religion of Jefus was fet up at Jerufalem, and fet up with afferting, in the very place in which he had been buried, and a few days. after he had been buried, his refurrection out of the grave, it is evident that, if his body could have been found, the Jews would have produced it, as the shortest and completeft answer poffible to the whole ftory. The attempt of the apoftles could not have furvived this refutation a moment. If we
also admit, upon the authority of St. Matthew, that the Jews were advertised of the expectation of Chrift's followers, and that they had taken due precaution in confequence of this notice, and that the body was in marked and public cuftody, the observation receives more force ftill. For, notwithftanding their precaution, and although thus prepared and forewarned; when the story